Enrile dares Jamby to go to court

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday advised Senator Jamby Madrigal to go to court if she believes there is a legal basis for her claim that he and other lawmakers are sitting in the Commission on Appointments illegally.

Enrile offered this advice as the commission indefinitely put off the holding of a plenary session to confirm several presidential appointees, led by Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr.

The leaders of the 25-member bicameral commission has not explained the delay, but speculation is rife that this is due to the unresolved issue raised by Madrigal about the alleged unconstitutional composition of the appointments panel.

Unless this issue is resolved, Madrigal has threatened to resort again to a wholesale invocation of section 20 of the commission’s rules to block the appointments arbitrarily.

Enrile said Madrigal had the right to raise this constitutional issue, but he was prepared to prove that she was wrong.

“She can go to the Supreme Court to resolve the issue. I will write the brief myself,” he told newsmen.

The appointment of Cristina Ponce Enrile, the senator’s wife, as ambassador to the Vatican, is one of the presidential appointments that may be affected if Madrigal makes good on her threat to invoke Section 20.

“If my wife is not confirmed, that’s okay,” Enrile said.

The confirmation of the appointments of Cristina Ponce Enrile and 14 other ambassadors, 22 career ministers and consuls in the diplomatic service was endorsed by the commission’s committee on foreign relations after marathon hearings yesterday.

The other ambassadors who hurdled the confirmation wringer were Francisco Benedicto (Nepal), Noe Wong (Cambodia), Macarthur Corsino (Cuba ), Claro Cristobal, Ma. Angelina Sta. Catalina, Domingo Lucenario, Laura del Rosario, George Reyes, Laureano Santiago, Wilfredo Cuyugan, Catalino Dilem Jr., Ma. Theresa Lazaro, Mario de Leon and Gilberto Asuque.

Madrigal is also questioning the membership of Senators Richard Gordon, Jinggoy Estrada, Alan Peter Cayetano, Joker Arroyo and Miriam Defensor Santiago on the ground of alleged failure to comply with the constitutional rule on proportional party representation.

Senate President and appointments panel chairman Manuel Villar said he had already referred Madrigal’s complaint to the commission’s committee on rules, which is expected to release its report soon.

Madrigal has found an ally in fellow commission member Senator Panfilo Lacson.

In a statement, Lacson stood his ground to exercise his right to invoke his one-person veto at the commission, particularly with regard to the promotion of Army Col. Arthur Abadilla.

Lacson said commission records showed that Abadilla was not issued either an ad interim appointment or reappointment from the time his original nomination was not acted upon by the body when it adjourned last December.